MEMBERS of the Primary Producers Firearms Advisory Board responsible for providing feedback on the overhaul of WA's gun laws say they are happy farmers are now being considered as a separate group, by WA Police Minister Paul Papalia.
Representatives from the Pastoralists and Graziers' Association (PGA) of WA and WAFarmers said they were initially disappointed by a lack of consultation with the agricultural industry on the proposed gun reforms, having mainly been informed of the changes via a series of media announcements.
They now support the primary producers firearm licence being floated by the government, but are still in the process of ironing out the finer details.
As the government re-writes WA's Firearm Act, Mr Papalia said the advisory board had been created to represent the best interests of farmers, growers and pastoralists.
"The board meets once a month to advise and provide feedback as we overhaul the State's outdated gun laws," Mr Papalia said.
"Western Australian primary producers require firearms as a part of their day-to-day job.
"I want to ensure the new act provides procedural and operational improvements for our farmers, growers and pastoralists."
A government spokesperson said the monthly board meetings were expected to continue until at least the end of the year.
Following the board's first meeting, chaired by Mr Papalia, WAFarmers chief executive Trevor Whittington provided feedback to the groups members on the initial licence restrictions proposed by the government for the primary producers licence.
These include a restriction of 10 firearms per farming property and mandatory mental health checks with a psychologist once every three years.
Another option being considered by the government is the potential for primary producers to undergo the mandatory mental health checks online.
Mr Whittington said a survey of WAFarmers' members found the majority were comfortable with the proposed 10 gun limit, with the group providing its initial feedback on the primary producers licence last month.
He said WAFarmers would like a concessional fee, similar to that for farm vehicles, implemented for the primary producers' licence.
"People could end up having to pay for three or four different licences - for example, a recreational licence, a collector's, a sporting and a primary producer's licence, so it could end up being a very expensive exercise," Mr Whittington said.
"But the difference is firearms are a tool of the trade for farmers.
"As we understand it, recreational shooters will be able to obtain a second licence for five guns - but we are leaving it to the recreational community to debate that final number with the minister."
Acknowledging that farmers having to undergo mental health checks once every three years was an improvement on the annual checks initially proposed, Mr Whittington said the requirement would make "very little difference" to picking up people with mental health issues.
"While we completely understand what the minister is trying to achieve we don't think it's going to work," he said.
"However we certainly support the mental health checks for first-time gun owners."
PGA policy director Sheldon Mumby said the mental health checks should be streamlined and he was concerned they would become "just another useless, box-ticking exercise".
Still in the process of formulating PGA's response to the discussions, he said the PGA were concerned about the proposed limit on firearms for the primary producers' licence and were also seeking clarification as to who would be responsible for them.
"From a pastoral point of view, it also applies to farming operations, there has been no clarification over whether it will be a primary producer's licence issued to the property," Mr Mumby said.
"The government is initially proposing there be a restriction down to 10 firearms but does that restriction apply to the whole property or to each person working on the property?
"The issue is that most farming and pastoral operations operate as farming businesses or partnerships, so technically you tend to have a minimum of two people who are involved in running that property, so it would be reasonable to assume that they both should be able to have a primary producer's licence.
"A farmer might be leasing out land, for example, so for that circumstance it hasn't yet been clarified whether the guns would be tied to the lessor or the lessee."
A new, central electronic database for the State's property letters is also being proposed as part of WA's gun reforms.
While this database will no doubt create additional limitations on the State's sport and recreational shooters, Mr Mumby said most PGA's members didn't have an issue with changes being made to the property letter system, as the majority of pastoralists didn't allow people to shoot on their land.
The Primary Producers Firearms Advisory Board also has representatives from Vegetables WA, Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen's Association, and Wines of WA.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.